You’d hardly believe it, given her age, but Sophie Long is one of our veterans. She was there when we first opened the doors of our café in Midleton four years ago. In fact, she’s in her second spell with us there, having taken a year off to focus completely on her leaving cert. “I was devastated leaving the café,” she says, “crying my eyes out. I just loved the job and the people so much.”

We were sorry to see her go. And we’re thrilled she’s back now that she’s studying science education and chemistry at college. Her ambition is to be a chemistry teacher.

“I’ve always loved science, chemistry especially. You have to picture chemistry in your mind and I can do that. I can understand it,” Sophie says. She wants to use that ability to pass on chemistry to others, a decision inspired by her own chemistry teacher at school.

The talent to visualise processes in your mind is useful in baking too, which is just another form of chemistry. Unsurprisingly, then, Sophie is an excellent baker and cook. Her favourite thing is a family dinner, especially when she can make the dessert. She admits to a small sweet tooth. Her favourite BiteSize treats? Pasteis de Nata.

A chemist is always looking to bring things together. So for someone like Sophie, it isn’t a question of coffee or tea. She drinks both. “Coffee in the morning. Tea in the evening,” she says.

Christmas is looming and that’s just fine by Sophie. She loves it. She is also one of our keenest people on Christmas Eve, possibly her favourite day to work. “I love the buzz of Christmas Eve, the people in the café, the smiles—it really gets you in the spirit. Then we finish at 4pm and Christmas really starts,” she says.

One of the most important concepts in chemistry is the catalyst—the thing that makes other elements react together better. We think Sophie is a bit like that. She brings her big smile and her chemistry to the café, and works hard to contribute to a great experience for our customers.

Roger Overall